Nine student-athletes from St. Johns River State College recently signed National Letters of Intent, advancing their academic and baseball careers to the university level. Six of the nine players are local talent from the College’s tri-county district comprised of Putnam, St. Johns and Clay counties.
Outfielder Wesley Weeks has signed with the University of North Florida, where he intends to major in sports management. The Clay High School graduate and second team all-conference selection had an impressive .310 batting average with 32 runs on 52 hits, including 10 doubles, a triple, a home run and 24 RBIs last season. Defensively, Weeks had a .967 fielding percentage for the season. "Playing at SJR State was one of the best decisions I've ever made," he said. "Plus, it's a winning program coached by the best."
Three Vikings are headed to Valdosta State University, where they will follow in the footsteps of alumnus Mitchell Cody, a pitcher for the Vikings who signed with VSU in 2013.
Pitcher Hunter Jones, who attended Palatka High School, plans to study education at VSU. Jones was 5-1 on the mound last season with a 2.13 ERA and an average of 9.95 strikeouts per game.
Pitcher Daniel Williams, a graduate of Nease High School, plans to pursue a degree in business at VSU. He was 5-0 in the six games he started last season with two saves and a 1.78 ERA, averaging 6.85 strikeouts per game. Williams said, "My time at SJR State was great. I became a better man being here. I look forward to Valdosta State and the goals I have for myself."
Catcher Harlan Harris, from Tallahassee, will be joining his teammates at VSU, where he intends to major in computer science. Harris had a .184 batting average with 18 runs, four doubles and 13 RBIs. His .984 fielding percentage includes a double play and 19 runners caught stealing. "I had a great college-athlete experience at SJR State. I'm glad I decided to spend my first two years here," said Harris.
In addition to Jones and Williams, four other Viking pitchers signed National Letters of Intent.
Pitcher Tyler Carr, who received the Mid-Florida Conference Fireman of the Year Award, has signed with the University of South Alabama. Carr, who is from Lake Placid, is currently undecided about his major. He was 5-2 last season with 13 saves, breaking the school record for saves in a season. Carr had a 2.4 ERA, averaging 8.14 strikeouts per game.
Left-handed pitcher Ryan Ross, a transfer from Appalachian State University, signed with East Carolina University, where he intends to major in business management. As a Mountaineer, Ross was 3-2 on the mound with a 3.79 ERA. At the plate, Ross produced 24 runs on 41 hits, including four doubles, two triples and a home run. As for his Viking experience thus far, the North Carolina native said, "I met new people that I will stay in touch with."
Pitcher and first baseman Andy Toelken has signed with the University of Missouri, where he plans to major in business management. The Clay High School graduate was a second team all-conference selection for the Vikings last season. He was 8-1 on the mound with a 2.29 ERA and averaged 4.9 strikeouts per game. At the plate, Toelken’s .273 batting average contributed to the Vikings' successful season.
Pitcher Dalton Whitaker has signed with Winthrop University in South Carolina and intends to major in business management. He was 2-1 on the mound last season with one save and a 5.79 ERA, averaging 9.26 strikeouts per game. Whitaker, who attended Bartram Trail High School, said, "I've meet some really great people here in Palatka, and I've matured as an athlete and a person at SJR State."
Infielder and catcher Hunter Alexander has signed with the University of Alabama, where he will pursue a business degree. The second team all-conference selection had an impressive .321 batting average with 29 runs on 44 hits, including nine doubles, 11 home runs and 44 RBIs. Defensively, his .957 fielding percentage included four double plays. About his student-athlete experience, the Clay High School graduate said, "It's a grind, but I love it and would not have wanted to play for any other coach during my time at SJR State."
Ross Jones, SJR State athletic director and head baseball coach who led the Vikings to three consecutive Mid-Florida Conference championships, said, "This is the largest group we've ever had sign. We are certainly proud of each student-athlete and look forward to their continued growth and success. They are all outstanding individuals who excel in the classroom and on the field and are perfect examples of what we at SJR State expect from our student-athletes." Jones continued, "These young men have represented our college and community in a first-class and highly-principled manner and will continue to do so at the next level."
In 1961, the Vikings took the field for the first time and have since dedicated the past 54 years to building a solid reputation for producing superior student-athletes.
The Vikings’ spring baseball season opens at home on January 30 versus Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Visit SJRvikings.com for more information.